Washington: A month before critical midterm congressional elections, Michelle Obama is putting her popularity and influence to the test, trying to help elect Democratic candidates and give her husband a fighting chance to complete his agenda.
Democrats are clamoring for her to campaign with them even as they avoid appearing with President Barack Obama, whose job approval rating has sunk to the low 40s.
Voters will decide tomorrow who will control both the House of Republicans and Senate during Obama's remaining two years in office, along with determining control of more than 30 governor's offices.
Republicans are expected to keep control of the House and hope to pick up the six seats the party needs to claim the Senate majority and, with it, control of both houses of Congress. Such an outcome would leave the president with scant hope of enacting any major legislation before leaving office.
Enter the first lady, who thought she was done with political campaigns after her husband's re-election effort two years ago, when she barnstormed key states on his behalf.
"I told Michelle in 2012 this was my last campaign. She said, 'Hallelujah!'" the president said earlier this year. "And then I had to go back to her about six months ago and say, 'Actually, honey, let me amend that. We've got one more campaign.'"
The first lady made her 2014 campaign trail debut last month with stops in Georgia with Michelle Nunn, who hopes to pick up a key Senate seat for Democrats tomorrow, and in Wisconsin with Mary Burke, who is trying to unseat Republican Gov Scott Walker, a potential presidential candidate.
Michelle Obama is appearing with Democrats where the president is not.
Barack Obama, for example, has not campaigned for Nunn in Georgia, where he lost in 2008 and 2012. So far this election season, he has campaigned only with Democratic candidates from his home state of Illinois. A planned joint appearance in Denver in July with Sen. Mark Udall quickly became a solo Obama stop when Udall decided at the last minute to stay behind in Washington.
Michelle also is viewed more positively than Obama by the public, 62 per cent to 50 per cent, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey.
Her office declined to release her complete campaign schedule, but she is again setting aside her well-known dislike of politics and juggling her multiple roles as wife, mother of two teenage daughters and first lady to spend at least two days a week on the road boosting Democratic candidates and urging supporters to vote.